5 Questions with… TeenCanteen

Ahead of the band’s show at Sneaky’s on Jan 27th, we ask TeenCanteen founder Carla five burning questions. Read on as she spills the beans on their girl-group influences and love for anecdotal song-writing. Come and see them in action when the Glaswegian four-piece hit the Cowgate in honour of Independent Venue Week.

Hi TeenCanteen! Please tell us how your band came to be?

Almost by accident! Me and Sita (bass) were in a band together for 5 years called Futuristic Retro Champions, which for various reasons, ended in 2010. Prior to our final shows I had begun writing new stuff which had a markedly different sound. I wasn’t 100% clear what I wanted to do with them or even sure I wanted to start another band. At the time I as studying the Masters of Fine Art at Glasgow School of Art and working on a series of puppet videos. One video I was working on was called ‘Fireworks’ which I wrote a song for with the same name. In the video (which was for an exhibition in Berlin) Duglas T. Stewart of BMX Bandits performed the song with Norman Blake and Gareth Perrie. [The song was later re-recorded and released by BMX Bandits, and you can see the original vid right here]

During this time I got together with Sita and my old high school friend Debs and had started playing small acoustic arts shows – mainly to trial songs out and see what the new band could be if fully formed. Duglas was always very supportive during this time, encouraging us to continue with this process. I came up with the name ‘TeenCanteen’ after clearing out some old records I had – stumbling upon a Showaddywaddy 7” with a song called ‘Teen Canteen’ as the B Side. I thought the name suited the songs that I was writing and referred to the girl-group sound I love and am influenced by.

We booked 4 rehearsals and some studio time, recording 4 tracks. And then things just continued from there…

Your name suggests a smorgasbord of teen thrills. One of your earlier tracks ‘Honey’ sounds like total teenage infatuation – can you tell us about it?

‘Honey’ is inspired by classic girl group song ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ by The Shirelles. It’s a question-and-answer based song. Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck in the emotional age of a teenager and I think that comes through in my writing.

All TeenCanteen songs are from personal experiences. I was in an unhappy relationship for a while – I guess the silver lining is it provided me with ample writing material. I’ll leave it at that.

You’re in the profession of massive, massive choruses. Which has been your favourite to write so far? Who’s your go-to inspiration for a whopping chorus?

Firstly thank you! I really love writing in the studio which we have done a lot of for our album – taking in the absolute bare bones of a song and letting it develop whilst recording. It’s also a great way to explore and use the studio to its fullest – the studio almost becomes the fifth member of the band. Again this is another element of the girl group sound I love. On record you can have subtle finger clicks and whispers that can never be recreated to the same extent live. You have to try and translate those sounds into a live experience.

I’m not sure what my favourite to write has been so far. It’s been exciting listening to the band and the songs develop recently. I remember when we listened back to our song ‘Dancing (Hey You)’ for the first time in the studio with Stephen (Watkins, Producer) and feeling like we had made something that was different to anything else we had done. And being there when The Cairn String Quartet recorded on our song ‘Roses’ has been one of my life highlights making music. I love big orchestral sounds. I really can’t wait for people to hear that track.

You’ve launched a Pledge campaign to get your debut record all wrapped up – how’s that all going? Can we hope to see Sister soon?

Very soon. Anyone who Pledged will receive a digital copy of the album [Sister] within the next week or so. After that we’ll be looking at ways to release it – hopefully on vinyl. There are still a few days left to pledge on our album including an Access Pass (£8) which will give you access to the album once completed.

Finally… This week is Independent Venue Week! What does TeenCanteen look for in a super great gig venue? 

A team. A superb ethos. A second home.

TeenCanteen play Sneaky Pete’s as part of Independent Venue Week, on Wednesday 27th Jan. Tickets from £6.